Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jeremy Gomes: Eye-witness testimony: Massachusetts defence lawyer predicts new court-imposed eye-witness testtimony jury instructions "will help make jurors aware of scientific principles regarding eyewitness identifications." (They include a warning that "a witness’s expressed certainty may not indicate accuracy, especially when the witness did not express the same level of certainty when first making the identification.") The template also includes commentary on the complexity of recalling past events, the effect of stress on eyewitness identification, the length of time that elapsed between a crime and a person being identified, and issues associated with having a witness view a suspect multiple times during identification procedures. Boston Globe;


STORY: "Jury instructions on eyewitness testimony updated: Guidance said to help jurors assess reliability," by Travis Anderson and Martin Finucane, published by the Boston Globe on January 12, 2015;

GIST: "The state Supreme Judicial Court on Monday issued updated instructions that judges should give to jurors to help them assess the reliability of eyewitness testimony. “The accuracy of an eyewitness identification is often the critical issue in a criminal case, the difference between a conviction and an acquittal,” wrote Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants in an opinion explaining the new instructions......... In Monday’s ruling, the SJC upheld Gomes’s conviction on charges of mayhem and breaking and entering into a vehicle at night with the intent to commit a felony, finding the trial judge did not err in declining Gomes’s request, in part because his lawyer presented no expert witnesses to support the principles outlined in the proposed instructions. However, Gants wrote, after reviewing the case along with an SJC study group report on eyewitness evidence that was completed in 2013, the high court has decided to issue a new template for judges to use when instructing jurors on eyewitness identification.........The SJC  Boston Globe;instructions include a warning that a witness’s expressed certainty may not indicate accuracy, especially when the witness did not express the same level of certainty when first making the identification. The template also includes commentary on the complexity of recalling past events, the effect of stress on eyewitness identification, the length of time that elapsed between a crime and a person being identified, and issues associated with having a witness view a suspect multiple times during identification procedures. In addition, the instructions allow jurors to consider whether witnesses were exposed to descriptions given by others, including police officers, which “may inflate the witness’s confidence in the identification.......Elizabeth A. Lunt, president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the ruling will help make jurors aware of scientific principles regarding eyewitness identifications. “This has been an issue for years and years,” Lunt said. “Jurors tend to believe eyewitness identification — ‘I’ll never forget that face’ ” — but researchers have highlighted the “difficulties people have making identifications, particularly under pressure.”"
The entire story can be found at: 

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/01/12/high-court-changes-jury-instructions-eyewitness-testimony-reflect-latest-science/Qo8FfCTeMeGrkYpKRYPRbL/story.html?rss_id=Top-GNP

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.
 
Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Monday, January 26, 2015

Back at work: Catch-up: (22); "Chemistry World" asks "hard questions" after "litany of forensic failures at US labs." For a start: "Is something rotten at the heart of US forensic science?" (Must Read. HL);


STORY: "Hard questions after litany of forensic failures at US labs," by reporter Rebecca Trager, published by Chemistry World on December 1, 2014.

GIST: "At least five high profile cases of serious malpractice at US forensic crime labs have come to light in the last two years, most resulting in the arrest of chemists working there. These scandals have called into question key evidence used in criminal cases, and have resulted in hundreds convictions being overturned. And this malpractice had led critics to ask a bigger question. Is something rotten at the heart of US forensic science?.........In the thousands of cases in which evidence was or may have been compromised are defendants – people – who have been pushed through our criminal justice system at a volume that creates a burden on the forensic system,’ says Sarah Chu, senior forensic policy advocate at the Innocence Project. ‘Some defendants may have even pled guilty despite their innocence in order to mitigate harsh prison sentences that probably looked very possible after they were confronted with what appeared to be indisputable scientific evidence.’ ‘What does not come to light is all of the information that these labs provide’ Chu says that in these malpractice cases the Innocence Project recommends independent investigations of the lab involved. More importantly, she adds, the root cause of the problem has to found and action taken to make sure that this never happens again.There is now widespread acknowledgment of the significant increase in the number of forensic malpractice cases in recent years. And there is also a growing consensus about a lack of oversight at these crime labs or, at the very least, insufficient checks. ‘What happened to institutional controls that should have caught these [cases]?’ Lee asks. ‘It is definitely time for stricter controls over forensic laboratories,’ he says. Lee calls the field a ‘wild, wild west’, and says there is no true oversight such as in the pharmaceutical industry or the US Environmental Protection Agency’s laboratories."

The entire story can be found at:

http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2014/12/hard-questions-after-litany-forensic-failures-malpractice-labs-us

 PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.
 
Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mr. Big Stings: CTV Fifth Estate looks at the Atif Rafay case in a riveting documentary - accessible through this post - called "Mr. Big stings, cops, criminals and confessions. The CTV Web site contains a wealth of supporting materials. (Must, Must See. HL);


DOCUMENTARY:  "Mr. Big stings: Cops, criminals and confessions,"  by reporter Allya Davidson, broadcast by CTV, on 16 January, 2015.

GIST: "Back in Monroe Atif Rafay hopes to use the Canadian Supreme Court ruling to somehow reopen his case. Unlike Dix, he confessed to Mr. Big and despite the fact that the sting is illegal in the U.S., his confession to Canadian cops was deemed admissible in Washington state court. By the time Rafay and Burns were convicted in 2004, after lengthy extradition processes, they had already been behind bars for almost 10 years. Now, more than a decade after that, barring any legal changes, both will die in prison. Now 39 years old, Atif Rafay has devoted his time to prison university courses and writing. One of his academic essays was published in The Walrus in 2011. In his first post conviction interview. Today, he tells Bob McKeown over the phone from inside Monroe Correctional Center that he was suspicious of Sebastian Burns’ “new friends” from the start, “I mean I didn’t approve of the thing at all from the beginning. It just seemed very, seemed like nothing I wanted to have much to do with.” He also claims he never intended to do anything violent for the undercover criminal gang and that he acted out of fear: “I wanted to indicate to them that this is not something that I’m ever going to do and yet at the same time I’m not ever going to rat you out, I’m not going to do anything to compromise your organization. Really, it was all a dream world created out of movies. It would seem very possible after watching “Goodfellas” that Mr. Big would simply kill me because I was potentially a threat to him. That seemed all completely convincing and I think in a way that it would only be convincing to an 18 year old kid.” Defence counsel and Mr. Big detractor Marie Henein argues that threats, veiled or otherwise are at the problematic heart of Mr. Big operations: “So that's precisely the message that was being sent. So when you say it's imagination, they're not making it up. It's because they're told, "You know who you're sitting with? You’re sitting with somebody that kills people. So you might wanna play ball." Still, that begs the question of why Rafay would admit to a murder he says he didn’t commit. Rafay says this is the key to why Mr. Big is both so successful and so dangerous “I think they’re very clever about that. The Mr. Big operation essentially makes you try to be as plausible as you can in your false confession and that plausibility is what convinces a juror or someone else that: ‘oh it must be true, it must be true’ despite all the countervailing evidence.” Rafay now rests his hopes on the unlikely prospect that the Supreme Court of Canada ruling may have some legal implication south of the border. Failing that, he will remain in prison along with high school friend Sebastian Burns, without any chance of parole. With Andy Rose, the Mr. Big came close to a wrongful conviction, save for DNA evidence and a skeptical prosecutor, is now a free man. He is still struggling to put his life back together. Jason Dix has started a new family and lives in Western Canada. Supporters of Mr. Big claim no one has ever been imprisoned as a result of a false confession to Mr. Big. Critics maintain that if that is in fact true, it’s more a case of a good luck than good work. Both sides are clear that the new guidelines set out by the Supreme Court will have a profound impact on how and if police proceed with any Mr. Big sting in the future."

The entire documentary  - and supporting materials -can be found at:
http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/episodes/2014-2015/mrbig

Related CBC News story:  "In the fifth estate episode, Haslett is asked whether he believes Rafay and Burns could have felt threatened into making their confessions. Of Burns, Haslett says, "I would never have said I'm ever going to do him any physical harm. If he had that perception, that is something that his imagination could've worked [up]." Asked if he did, indeed, feel threatened, Rafay said, "Yeah actually, extremely so. Really, it was all a dream world created out of movies. "It would seem very possible after watching Goodfellas that Mr. Big would simply kill me because I was potentially a threat to him. That seemed completely convincing – in a way that would only be convincing to an 18-year-old kid." Defence counsel Marie Henein argues in the fifth estate piece that threats of one kind or another are the very essence of the Mr. Big sting. "When you say it's imagination, they're not making it up. It's because they're told, 'You know who you're sitting with? You're sitting with somebody that kills people. So you might want to play ball.'""


 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/atif-rafay-family-killer-targeted-in-mr-big-sting-wants-case-reopened-1.2912885?cmp=rss

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.
 
Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Anthony Ray Hinton; Alabama; he has been removed from death row - after 30 years awaiting execution - pending a retrial ordered because his lawyer did not know that spending limits for qualified ballistic experts had been lifted - and that he could have hired a better one to counter the state's forensic experts;


STORY: "Man being removed from Alabama death row for retrial in 1985 slayings of Birmingham fast food managers," by reporter Kent Faulk, published  by Alabama.com on January 15, 2015.

GIST:  "After spending nearly 30 years awaiting execution for the deaths of two Birmingham area fast-food restaurant managers, Anthony Ray Hinton will be removed from Alabama Death Row in the next few weeks to await a new trial in the slayings.........Petro in October had ordered Hinton's conviction set aside and for him to be retried. She issued the order after rulings earlier in 2014 from the U.S. Supreme Court and Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals that she should look at whether the lawyer for Anthony Ray Hinton should have hired a better firearms expert for his trial.  Hinton was convicted of killing two fast-food restaurant managers and wounding a third during three robberies in 1985. Hinton was convicted largely on the strength of the eyewitness testimony of the surviving restaurant manager and expert testimony from prosecution witnesses that bullets recovered from all three crime scenes had been fired by a pistol police found in his home. A man hired by Hinton's trial attorney to counter state forensics experts testified the bullets could not be matched to the gun, but in stinging cross examination was discredited by the prosecution over his qualifications and findings. Hinton's court appointed defense attorney had contended that he tried to find a better firearms expert cut could not find one with the limited funds he had. But the appeals courts ruled that the defense attorney did not know that the spending limits for such experts had been lifted and he could have hired a better one.......... The issue over whether the defense gun expert was qualified to testify in Hinton's case has been going for more than six years. As of today Hinton has been on death row 29 years, four months and 28 days. He also spent another 485 days in the county jail."

The entire story can be found at:

http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2015/01/man_being_removed_from_alabama.html

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.
 
Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Friday, January 23, 2015

James Hugney Sr. New developments in arson science that have led to challenges to numerous arson and murder convictions across the USA free James Hugney Sr. after spending 37 years behind bars. (This is the case taken on by defence lawyer Justin McShane, author of the phenomenal Blog "The Truth About Forensic Science," which I have often referred to on this site.)


STORY: "Deal frees  East Shore man   from life prison sentence for fatal 1978  fire," by reporter Matt Miller, published by Penn Live, on January 23, 2015.

 GIST: "An East Shore man who served 37 years behind bars for a fatal 1978 fire in Susquehanna Township was freed from state prison Friday after striking a plea deal with Dauphin County prosecutors. James Hugney Sr., now 72, was convicted of second-degree murder and arson and sentenced to life in prison for the fire death of his 16-year-old son. Hugney's release resulted from his latest appeal, which cited new developments in fire investigation science that have led to challenges to numerous arson and murder convictions across the country. The deal that freed Hugney, negotiated by First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo and defense attorney Justin McShane, involved several steps.........Although he entered his new guilty pleas willingly, Hugney did not admit to committing any crime, Lewis noted in his order on the case. Chardo said his office still could have prosecuted Hugney on some evidence from the fatal 1978 fire, but the investigation of the cause of the fire would have been called into question by the advancements in fire science. So, he said, reaching the plea deal with Hugney seemed to be the "right thing" to resolve the case. Hugney's is not the only midstate murder case affected by advancements in fire science. A Cumberland County judge also is weighing a plea to overturn the conviction and life prison sentence of Letitia Smallwood for a fatal 1972 blaze in Carlisle."

The entire story can be found at:

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2015/01/deal_frees_east_shore_man_from.html

 See Justin McShane's post; "After his trial attorneys in 1979 did not challenge the opinions of the fire experts that it was an arson, James Hugney was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Life in prison in Pennsylvania means that there is no possibility of parole. Life means life. Beyond that, the trial court wrote at the time of his appeal: “We feel compelled to repeat the feelings we expressed in our opinion on Hugney Sr. ‘s post-trial motions that it is unfortunate that petitioner’s life, as well as his appeal, cannot be doused.” Every day for 36 years, Hugney has maintained his innocence. But for the fact that capital punishment (the death penalty) was suspended in the United States from 1972 through 1976 primarily as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), he may very well have been executed by this time."

 http://www.thetruthaboutforensicscience.com/man-freed-serving-35-years-11-months-8-days-prison-arson-murder-wasnt/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.
 
Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Reginald Tanubagijo; Suisun City; California; Foster father to be sentenced on March 24 in 2010 infant death case; Prosecution medical experts labelled infant's injuires "abusive head trauma" - formerly known as shaken baby syndrome; Tanubagijo admitted to shaking the baby four-to-five times in an attempt to revive it after the baby fell from the kitchen table. The Reporter;


STORY: "Suisun City foster father to be sentenced in March in 2010 infant death case," by reporter Ryan Chalk, published by the Reporter on January 12, 2015.

GIST: Attorneys on Monday agreed to return to court in March for sentencing in the case of a Suisun City foster father convicted of second-degree murder in connection with the 2010 death of an infant in his care.........According to trial testimony, the infant, who Tanubagijo referred to as Buddy, suffered from massive subdural hematomas and severe retinal hemorrhages. Medical experts for the prosecution included their opinion that the injuries Buddy suffered could be labeled as abusive head trauma, formerly known as shaken baby syndrome. At trial, jurors also were played video recordings of interviews Tanubagijo had with investigators following the incident. In his second interview with investigators, Tanubagijo explained that Buddy fell from the kitchen table. Late in that second interview, Tanubagijo admitted to shaking the baby four-to-five times in an attempt to revive it after the fall. Taking to the witness stand in his own defense, Tanubagijo testified that he neglected to tell anyone that as Buddy began to choke, he reached over to where the child was placed in a chair on top of the table, causing it to topple over onto the tile floor. He testified that he was afraid and ashamed to tell anyone immediately. Tanubagijo was ordered back to court on March 24, for sentencing. He remains in Solano County Jail custody without bail."

The entire story can be found at:

http://www.thereporter.com/general-news/20150112/suisun-city-foster-father-to-be-sentenced-in-march-in-2010-infant-death-case

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.
 
Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Thursday, January 22, 2015

David Bain; New Zealand; His claim for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment is back on the rails.


PUBLISHER'S VIEW: The New Zealand government has shamefully withheld the compensation it rightfully owes David Bain for years. Hopefully the New Justice Minister will display a sense of justice  that eluded her predecessor. Harold Levy; Publisher. The Charles Smith Blog.

 STORY: "David Bain compensation: The story so far," published by TVNZ "One News" on January 22, 2015;

GIST: "Justice Minister Amy Adams' announcement that Cabinet will resume consideration of David Bain's compensation claim is the latest development in his nearly five-year long quest for recompense for wrongful conviction and imprisonment..........In February that year, at Mr Bain's request, the Cabinet put consideration of his application for compensation on hold, pending the judicial review proceedings he had filed. Ms Collins (former justice minister) resigned in August last year in the midst of the furore over the Dirty Politics saga and late last year Mr Bain's legal team had confidential discussions with the new Minister of Justice, Amy Adams, about compensation. Ms Adams today confirmed that judicial review proceedings undertaken by Mr Bain have been discontinued by him. "With the matter resolved, Cabinet can now resume its consideration of Mr Bain's claim for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment," says Ms Adams. She says there will be a further announcement regarding the consideration of the application "in due course".

The entire story can be found at:

http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/david-bain-compensation-story-so-far-6222485

See related Newstalk ZB story: "Long-time David Bain supporter Joe Karam says the review was sparked over concerns about the then Minister's handling of Mr Bain's compensation claim. "The predominant purpose of the judicial review was to prevent Judith Collins dealing with David Bain's compensation claim." Joe Karam, says with a new Justice Minister now instated, there is no longer a need for a review. He says Mr Bain's legal team and supporters are pleased with the development. "The whole thing has gone on far too long, I'm sure the country is sick of it and would like it to be over and done with."

 http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/bain-may-still-get-compensation/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.
 
Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;